As of today, January 8, 2018, we have logged over 700 additional miles since our breakdown outside Coban, Guatemala. Currently, we reside in the pacific coastal town of San Juan, Nicaragua, about forty minutes north of the Costa Rican Frontera (border). There are little worries with blue skies and clear ocean water in this safe harbor town. In two days we plan to cross into Costa Rica and make our way to a friend’s place outside the capital city of San Jose.
Central Americas Medium Income Housing
Our entrance to the pleasant country of Nicaragua was proceeded by a collage of invasive cultural stimuli, which had an obsession for confusion and was determined to test our patience. To put it literally, we exited Guatemala, entered and exited El Salvador and Honduras, and entered Nicaragua, all within a period of three days. Although, bleeding simplicity with the only necessity being a stamp in the passport and permission to transport our motos through the country, the average border crossing in this area took five hours.
A barrage of con-artists awaited weary travelers on each of the “lines”, making identifying one’s true path next to impossible. We are talking about pure lunacy. The following is a brief portrayal of our experience at the border between El Salvador & Honduras:
Figuring out our border attack plan
Hot and sweaty, we made our way through the final portion of El Salvadorian pot holes. Our skin was red from the rays and we knew we were no longer in the cool mountains of Guatemala, protected by altitude. As sweat poured from our heads it seeped past our helmets and boiled off as it hit the single cylinder pumping between our legs. Approaching the boarder of central Americas most densely populated country, we noticed a funneling effect. The people knew we were coming, and knew what we were trying to do. It all started about three miles before the border….. A man in a uniform with badge was standing at an intersection a little too far outside the crossing zone. He stood officially in the center of the lane with hands out to calling for us to stop. We accommodated his request not knowing who he was. He demanded a look at our passports, to which, we apologized and said had been stolen. He returned our rebuttal with an offer to help us get through the border with our missing paperwork, we refused and said we already had someone that could help. Leaving abruptly after our conversation we noticed the same man following us from a distance as we moved closer to the “line”. Further along, we found more “officials” demanding us to stop. Now knowing better, we rode past only to hear demanding yells from behind. By the time we reached the boarder of El Salvador there were two “officials” on bikes pulling in behind us, also, there was an “official” transmitador and other English-speaking border helpers awaiting our arrival. Getting off our bikes and searching for our paperwork we were bombarded by a multilinguistic interrogational circus. It was difficult to decipher the true path. Our “stalker” was angry we had lied to him as he seen we didn’t trust him with the paperwork. There was a young man with a fist of currency looking to exchange our dollars for lempiras for a premium. There was a woman selling last minute souvenirs from her country. There were curious children looking to pass time by joking with the travelers. Drunks slurring a mix of Spanish and English, half angry, half your new best friend. Doing our best to assure our appoachers we were confident in our own abilities and would find our way privately, we pushed our way through the herd and on to the migration window. Here they would stamp our passports and begin the cancellation of our vehicle permits. With our limited Spanish we can usually pick up enough words to figure out what is needed for the next step, however our new posse was determined to put themselves in the middle of the dialog. Every word from the migration officials mouth was translated and responded to by 3-4 others adding their own personal touch. The “private” dialog we were looking for was made inaudible by our conspirators. Eventually the situation called for us to speak up and get tonally harsh to ward off the crowd. Although it gained us clarity and the ability to process the paperwork our new friends lingered. When all the paperwork was finalized, we walked back to the bikes. Our gang followed hoping to get compensation for their efforts and “aid” they provided through the hour long waiting line and paperwork processing……. Holy crap…. We were glad to get out of El Salvador…….. Oh Yea, wait a tick……… Welcome to Honduras!!!! And the insanity found new life……
Other than the challenge of the border crossings, all has been beautiful. The pacific coast is ripe with tanned skin, delicious food, and great surf. The town in which we currently reside has been our favorite, although, there is no surf. For now, we will enjoy the good vibes here. In two days we will head south.
Yet more civilized, crossing into Costa Rica is supposedly a lengthy ordeal. We are hoping to stop about an hour into the new country and finish our route to San Jose the next day. While in San Jose we will be staying with a friend that volunteered to put us up for free. Although the bikes have been running, unfortunately, we suspect the one with the new piston had a valve bent when the fracture initially occurred. The result is a barely detectable ticking noise after the intake stroke and it affects the idling ability of Seth’s bike. The problem makes it difficult to keep the bike running when we come to a complete stop. A real drag in cities with many intersections.
Walking through the streets of Granada
We are hoping to fix these items before we push forward to Colombia and ideally knock out the possibility for future problems. This would provide much needed relief from our daily anxiety of riding with a problematic vehicle. Thinking we would replace the all the valves, cam, cam chain, etc…. everything needed for a brand new top end, we called Garvis Honda of Des Moines to price out the parts. Garvis’s team has been great for troubleshooting and spent nearly an hour with us doing a verbal diagnostic of Seth’s bike. Pricing up the parts to fix the problem and making it an easy bolt on repair, they sent us an email with the total. To our surprise the complete, to stock, fix cost nearly $1,700.00 before shipping. It would be great to have the peace of mind with Honda original parts, just disassembling and rebuilding with new stock. Moving forward there would be no issues. However, we just don’t have that kind of money available if we expect to make it further south. $2,000 can run us for six-eight weeks in South America. We are hoping to find some alternative options. For now, we will push forward and continue our mission and learning.
An additional blog to follow up in San Jose.